MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- ACA International, the association of credit and collection professionals, today announces that it has filed comments in response to the United States Internal Revenue Service and Department of Treasury's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Additional Requirements for Charitable Hospitals.
"As a billing and collections service provider to charitable hospitals, ACA members welcome the opportunity to help patients gain greater access to available healthcare and financial assistance programs," ACA Chief Executive Officer Pat Morris said. "Our submitted comments focus on improving the patient experience and reducing confusion due to inconsistent or duplicative federal, state and local financial assistance requirements."
Clarify Statutory and Regulatory Authority: Federal authority for regulating and enforcing the collection of all debts, including healthcare debts, is set forth in the FDCPA. ACA requests clarification as to the statutory basis to apply the proposed rules to the collection of healthcare debts and to explain the apparent attempt to exercise rulemaking under the FDCPA, when Congress has delegated such authority on to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Preempt Inconsistent and Duplicative Laws: The proposed regulations conflict with state and local charitable care and financial assistance laws, creating compliance challenges for hospitals and confusion for patients. ACA suggests the solution to this problem is for the final rule to clarify that the federal standards preempt state law.
Exclude Credit Reporting from Extraordinary Collection Actions: Credit reporting of healthcare debt is not "extraordinary" and putting it on par with lawsuits, wage garnishment and foreclosure actions is an arbitrary and capricious interpretation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the intent of Congress. ACA suggests credit reporting be removed from consideration as an "extraordinary" collection action.
Reduce the Notification and Application Periods: The proposed 120 day notification and 240 day application periods are too long, conflict with state requirements, and interfere with the ability of charitable hospitals to recover payments from patients ineligible for financial assistance. ACA encourages a maximum 120 day period for the hospital to notify and accept applications from potentially eligible patients.
Clarify Tolling Limitations: The proposed regulations fail to address the legal effect of prohibiting the reporting of healthcare debts for up to 240 days after the initial bill, which reduces by one-half the period of time a hospital can recover nonpayment of a debt from a patient that does not qualify for charity care. ACA suggests that all statutes of limitation be tolled until the final determination of eligibility.
Require Patients to Cooperate with Eligibility Determinations: Healthcare providers and patients have a shared responsibility to promptly resolve financial assistance requests. ACA suggests the proposed regulations acknowledge that a patient seeking eligibility for financial assistance has an affirmative duty to cooperate in the process.
Consumers have important rights under federal and state law governing the collection of medical debt. For more information or to ask questions visit www.askdoctordebt.org, a helpful and free resource for consumers.
ACA International is the comprehensive, knowledge-based resource for success in the credit and collection industry. Founded in 1939, ACA brings together nearly 5,000 members in the United States and abroad and more than 148,000 employees, including third-party collection agencies, asset buyers, attorneys, creditors and vendor affiliates. ACA establishes a wide variety of products, services and publications. For more information on ACA International, visit www.acainternational.org.
Contact: Mark Schiffman
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SOURCE ACA International